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The loughshore wasteland that could soon be a fantasy factory for film-makers

By Rebecca Black

Published 01/09/2015

The north foreshore site in Belfast which could be home to the city’s newest movie studios
The north foreshore site in Belfast which could be home to the city’s newest movie studios
Development plans for the area

It may look like a desolate wasteland, but a patch of land in north Belfast could be set to attract movie stars and film-makers from across the world.

The North Foreshore was used from 1958 to 2007 as a landfill site, and since then has been the subject of debate for redevelopment.

At more than 340 acres, it is the largest development site in the city and now plans are afoot to transform it into a film-maker's playground.

As Northern Ireland builds its reputation as a filming location for major productions such as Game of Thrones, NI Screen is planning to build a new film studio on the North Foreshore site - just across Belfast Lough from Titanic Studios, more popularly known as the Painthall.

The studio has been proposed by NI Screen, the company responsible for promoting Northern Ireland as a destination for filming.

Belfast City Council has been told that the North Foreshore is being considered by NI Screen as a location for a new film studio.

Councillors voted to endorse the plan, and also heard that the proposal will be subject to legal advice on disposal options due to the site's history.

NI Screen also owns Titanic Studios and the Linen Mill studio in Banbridge which is set to be expanded. It advertises a number of other spaces including Edgewater Road, Dargan, where the BBC's The Fall was filmed, Kilroot, KBL Mill, Ballyclare and Central Park, Mallusk.

Northern Ireland is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for filming since we pulled in our first high-profile US studio project with Tom Hanks' production team for City of Ember. Universal Pictures followed to film Your Highness here and in 2009 HBO first arrived to film a pilot of Game of Thrones which has gone on to become a worldwide hit and is currently filming its fifth season around Northern Ireland.

It is hoped that a new film studio at the North Foreshore would help develop the growing industry even further.

Meanwhile on the southern section of the North Foreshore site, Belfast City Council is working with the European Regional Development Fund to deliver an Environmental Resource Park.

Councillors on the North Foreshore Steering Group have visited the Eden Project in Cornwall for inspiration. The North Foreshore site comprises of 340 acres and is the biggest regeneration site in Belfast. Council's vision is to transform the former landfill site into a positive and sustainable asset.

What to do with the North Foreshore site has provoked a lot of debate, including suggestions of a golf course, sports pitches and a private sector leisure attraction.

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